A.N. Here is the next chapter! I went crazy and wrote for a two days straight. I know the first chapter was short so I made sure I'd make it up to you guys. I'm pretty sure my friends are starting to believe I disappeared off the face of the planet. But no matter, I've got you guys! For a heads up, I am so happy that I've been getting all these story alerts! When I first found this site (with the help of my roommate Whitney) I wasn't sure that any one would read my work, I mean, there are thousands of stories on here. What was so special about mine? At any rate here it is, and if there were any chance that I could pull out a couple reviews from you people I would love it! I'm trying to get better here and I need your help!
(jeez this is getting to be a long authors note…but also thanks Whitney for being my beta )
It had been four days since Annabel had disappeared. That night Annabel had pleaded sick with a headache and had excused herself from dinner. The only reason her uncle Robert had permitted it was because the next day she was to announce her and Henry's engagement and he wanted her to be in top shape.
Instead, thought Robert, the little bitch had run. And now he wasn't sure where she was, but he knew one thing, once he found her, he would kill her.
Henry, Thomas, and Brandon had taken to sitting at the opposite end of the long dining table, along with their mother. Robert had become so surly that if they breathed too loudly he was likely to throw a fit.
The cranberry sauce was at the other end of the table and, being the oldest, Henry was elected to go and get it, " But why?" Henry whined, "I don't even like cranberry sauce…"
"Because," Annabel's Aunt Edith commanded sternly, "You are the oldest, and it is your responsibility!" The two younger brothers grinned at each other, and then glared smugly at their older brother.
Henry traveled cautiously toward the other end of the dining table, hoping he could somehow manage to pilfer the cranberry sauce before his father became distracted from eating. Too late.
"What, exactly, are you doing?" Came a deeply annoyed voice.
"I was just grabbing the cranberry sauce, you see-" Henry said in a slightly shrill voice, wishing he was anywhere but there with his father.
"See what?" Robert taunted.
"I-I don't really like cranberry sauce, but I was elected…" Henry trailed off at the cold look in his father's eyes.
"Go ahead then," Robert said, "take it."
Henry reached in, warily placing his hands under the cranberry bowl. Quick as a whip Robert was up and had snatched the cranberry bowl from his son's hands and then dumped the contents upon his head. Henry squeaked and raced back to where his mother and brothers sat.
"I told you-" Robert boomed across the table, "to NEVER disrupt me while I'm EAAATING! Would you like some more sprouts?" Robert asked with an amused laugh, upending the plate of steaming sprouts on the floor, "Or what about some turkey?" He mocked, throwing that to the ground as well.
Edith jumped when the turkey hit the floor with a loud clank and scurried away towards her bedroom, tears in her eyes and little gasping sobs coming from her mouth.
Henry looked at his mother as she ran away. She was such a little whiny bitch, he thought evilly to himself. Trying to speak rationally, Henry approached his father once more, "Father, we've sent out multiple search parties for her-"
"But have we found her?!" Robert yelled back.
Think positive, Henry thought, once she was found this would all go back to normal, and they would be rich! That almost put a smile on Henry's face, but he restrained, "Look," he told his father, wiping cranberry sauce from his eyes angrily, "If you would like, I'll go looking for her, I'll bring…" he whipped his head around and saw his two brothers, "I'll bring Brandon and Tom."
"Great," Robert sneered, "With you three idiots on the look out she'll be found in no time atall'" With that Robert turned and stalked through the room and up the stairs.
Braeley sat down in the kitchens eating her meal with cook since she wasn't allowed to eat with her relatives. She'd rather eat down here anyways, she thought, Cook loved the little girl and had treated her like her own child since she was born.
"Cook?" Braeley asked.
"Yes love?" Cook replied.
"May I…may I have some more turkey? And perhaps some more potatoes please?" The girl was too charming for her own good, Cook thought, with that smile she could win over the entire city of Northumberland.
"Yes, love," Cook said again, spooning some mash potatoes onto the little girl's plate, "but don't fill your stomach too full, or ye might not save room for one of me special cakes for desert."
Braeley's eyes lit up with interest, "Don't worry," she smiled, "I always save room for one of your cakes!"
Ah, Cook thought, the little girl had gone through so much pain for someone so young. First growing up without a mother, then having her father pass away and her sister disappear with in a week of each other? Yes, Cook thought, it was amazing the child still smiled.
Braeley was sitting there munching happily on one of Cook's steaming hot oat cakes covered in maple syrup. For now, Cook thought, she was happy, and that was all she could ask for.
Edith stood cowering in the corner of the master bedroom; her eyes followed her husband's progress as he walked from the door to lay onto the bed. The room was not just large, it was massive. A fireplace took up the southern wall along with a couple of comfy chairs where one could rest during the winter and remain warm. It wasn't winter though, it was the end of spring, and the fire wasn't even set. A maroon covered king size bed took up space from the middle of the room to the eastern wall, massive curtains hung around it to give privacy to its occupants.
The curtains remained untouched though, for Robert hadn't touched Edith in well over five years.
Twenty-three years they had been together and the only time he had ever shown compassion was when she was giving birth. Three healthy men and still he ignored her. She eyed the fire poker, if she could just get there in time…no, he would overtake her, he had hit her before and she didn't want to evoke his wrath.
"Edith," Robert complained, "Come take my shoes off," and with that command Edith removed herself from the corner and came to kneel at her husband's feet.
Annabel's eyes widened, "You wouldn't dare!" She practically yelled as she tried valiantly to decently cover herself. Her dress was in tears along with her thin cotton chemise and she had only packed one extra dress. She was hoping to find a town where she could purchase cheap clothing, obviously that plan was out of works.
Everything was just too much for her; Annabel started walking toward the forest and shook Eaton's hand off when he reached for her shoulder. She found a tree and sank to the ground against it. Her head hung in her hands and great sobs wracked her body.
Great, Eaton thought, a crying female, how was he supposed to know what to do? "Donna cry lass…" he attempted. She only sobbed harder, "It's all over now," he tried again.
"No it isn't," she said glancing up with a wild look in her eye, "It's just starting." With that she hung her head again and began crying some more.
They sat like that for what felt like hours to Eaton, but was really only a half hour. Finally Annabel calmed down; her reddened eyes and hiccups were the only indication left, "Are ye alright lass?"
Annabel knew that she should be nice, he did save her life after all, but, wasn't this his fault in the first place? If she hadn't been delayed then she wouldn't have come across this road at the same time the bandits were riding past.
Annabel glared back at Eaton, "Does it LOOK as though I am alright?" She asked almost angrily.
Eaton stared dumbfounded at Annabel, just what exactly had he done to earn that look and that tone? "Just wait a second, I saved ye lass, does it look as tho' I'm the bad guy?"
"One of them," Annabel bit back, "You couldn't have just let me go?" She screamed at him, forgetting her peasant accent and advancing on him like the daughter of a wealthy English lord, "None, NONE," she emphasized, "of this would have happened if you would have just let me go!"
Now he was getting angry, "I saved yer arse ye ungrateful little witch, ye think that ye would have nevr' have run into someone save me on thees road? Ye would have very well been killed if I wasna here!"
Annabel lost just a bit of her steam, but not enough to back down. She walked right up to him until they were almost chest-to-chest and then poking him in the stomach said, "If I would have needed any help then I would have asked for some!"
Eaton didn't know what to say, no words were coming to mind or coming out of his mouth. He just stood there staring down at the little spitfire who practically had herself plastered against him. He could feel every aspect of her little body pressing against him from her toes up to where her breasts were flattened against his chest.
At that moment Annabel realized the perilous position she had put herself in and stepped back from Eaton immediately; she was too late though. She looked up, Eaton's eyes had darkened to almost black and his hand had come out to wrap itself around her wrist. He tugged her until she was up against him. His hand came down to tilt her chin up as he watched Annabel's eyes widened.
He must have seen something in her eyes because he dropped his hand instantly, stepping back from Annabel and running his right hand over his eyes. He turned away grumbling to himself.
He almost kissed her, Eaton thought, and she almost let him. Was there something he was missing?
Annabel looked shocked, had he almost just kissed her? She wasn't sure if she should smack him or just pretend as if nothing had happened. He looked as if he was beating himself up enough already.
"Three moor days," he murmured, "at this pace it's goin' to take a 'hole God damn three moor days."
"I need to change," Annabel said pointedly.
"O' course," he mumbled, "There is a clump o' trees righ' back theer and it'll hide ye well o' nuff."
"And bathe," she added impatiently.
Eaton turned around then to look at Annabel. The lass was beaten up pretty bad, he thought, her clothes were in rags, her neck caked with dry blood and he could see bruises forming from where the highwaymen had viciously grabbed her arms, "Alright lass, a couple hundred feet back theer is this stream, its' clean o' nuf. I'll take ye back there myself, wouldn't want ye running off again."
He is not watching me bathe, Annabel thought as she followed Eaton and a cheerily bouncing Duncan back through the woods.
"Here," Eaton pointed, and sure enough there it was, the most beautiful sight Annabel had seen in almost a week. She let out a little laugh and almost jumped right in.
Instead she turned to look back at Eaton as she made her way to the water's edge, "You have to leave."
"Like hell I do."
"You can't just watch me bathe," Annabel said indignantly. She knew that if anything happened while either of their emotions was running high both of them would soon regret it. Eaton knew too, he just chose to ignore it.
"Fine," Eaton conceded, "I'll turn my back, but I'm not leaving."
That was all it took, Annabel was out of her torn dress and chemise and wading into the water within seconds, "Don't look," she called back sternly.
Eaton stood there listening to Annabel undress and make her way into the water. He could just see the ripped dress and undergarments falling from her body, her dark hair plastered down her back as she washed it in the stream. Dear God, Eaton thought, he should have left when she gave him the chance.
"Ahh," Annabel sighed as the water hit her body, this was lovely, no, this was heaven. She grabbed a small cake of soap she had pilfered from the estate before she left and lathered it over her body. It smelt of lavender and jasmine, two of her favorite scents.
Eaton's eyes squeezed shut, did he just hear Annabel moan? Why was she doing this to him? Surely she was doing it on purpose. Or maybe she was hurt! She probably wasn't, but he should check just in case…
He turned around to see Annabel with her back to him, her dark hair fell half way down her back and she was lathering it with some sort of soap. He watched for a moment as she bent down to rinse her hair out and then turned towards him again, completely naked.
Annabel squealed and dashed for her ripped dress, anything was better than this humiliation, "You promised you wouldn't look!" She basically screamed.
"You-I-" he looked sheepish as a blush crept up his neck, "I thought you might have drowned," he finished lamely.
"Oh of all the-" Annabel huffed as she held the ripped dress in front of her with one hand and tried with the other to fish the clean dress out of her bag. She looked up again, "For heaven's sake, turn AROUND!"
Eaton turned then, and mumbling something akin to, meet ye back in the clearin'; he turned and walked swiftly away.
Later that evening Eaton had built a fire twenty feet from the clearing and was grilling parts of the rabbit he had caught on a stick, Annabel was boiling hot water for coffee.
Twenty minutes later the two sat down a couple feet from each other and proceeded to dig into the mildly chewy rabbit, some watered down coffee, and a couple of apples Eaton had found in a nearby tree.
Eaton sat there attempting to concentrate on his meal; really, he truly was trying to concentrate. But he couldn't help shooting coveted glances at Annabel, and he couldn't help picturing her in the stream, Dammit.
Annabel sat there in silence, she could see Eaton watching her from the corner of her eye and she knew exactly what he was thinking. If two could play this game, she would. But there was no way to shame this man, she thought. She tried gallantly for a full five minutes before she just gave up.
Annabel grabbed up her apple and with a swift throw lobbed it at Eaton's head; it hit him smack in the forehead. Annabel smiled and silently congratulated herself on a well-aimed throw.
"What the hell?" Eaton shouted, "You fucking threw an apple at me!" He said rubbing his forehead.
"You deserved it you big lout!" Annabel retorted.
"For ogling me, you brute." Eaton had the presence to look ashamed.
"Like I said-"
"Don't give me that bull shit-" Eaton's eyes widened, he'd never heard her swear before, "you knew I wasna drowning."
"You could have been?"
"Well I'm glad, in that case, that you turned to see that I hadn't drowned in a two foot deep stream!" Annabel yelled before she jumped up and stalked off towards a clump of trees.
"Lass, ye canna just walk away like tha'," Eaton demanded as he stood up to follow her.
Annabel whirled around, "I am relieving myself, and if you follow me back here," she glared at him, "so help me God." She left him with that and strode her way to the trees.
When Annabel returned she found Eaton standing there rubbing Duncan's ears, with a smirk on his face. When he saw her approach is smile widened.
"Could you hand me that apple?" She asked Eaton innocently. He almost gave it to her.
She still had to be tied at night, which royally pissed Annabel off. Lying there, though, with her arms tied together and feet in a similar arrangement she still had to grin. She hadn't stayed the simpering miss for long once MacDuff had started at her with the rope.
"No," Annabel said, circling the fire warily.
"Come on lass, ye kno' I haf to," Eaton attempted to explain, "Ye haven't exactly given me a reason to trust ye."
"Please MacDuff," Annabel pleaded, and Eaton found he actually like the way his name rolled off her tongue.
He smiled, "Are ye going to cooperate or shall I sling ye over me shoulder? Either way yer bein' tied."
Being only five foot and four inches Annabel stood no chance against Eaton's towering six foot five, but she gave him a run for his money. Glancing back at the tree behind her Annabel backed up till she was just below a low hanging limb.
Before he knew what was happening she had grabbed a hold of the limb and proceeded to shimmy her way partially up the tree.
"For God's sake lass…" Eaton moaned.
"I'll sleep up here," Annabel taunted. She thought she was high enough, so to goad him even more she dropped down one leg and dangled it above his dark head. Eaton glanced up, his eyes shooting daggers at Annabel. She laughed, "What? Not going exactly as you had planned?"
Without warning Eaton jumped up and grabbed Annabel's leg, she screamed and tipped forward off the tree…and right into Eaton's waiting arms, "Gotcha," Eaton said with a smirk. Though she had struggled mightily and clipped his lip with her elbow; he had eventually gotten her under control and tied in rope.
"Mornin'," There was that smirk again, Annabel thought as she lazily opened her sleep heavy eyes. Why was he smiling like that so early in the morning?
She opened her eyes fully then, there was a breeze on her legs. Annabel looked down and gasped, during the night she must have twisted; her shift was all the way up to her thighs! Annabel averted her eyes and pulled her shift down to her ankles.
"Lass, if ye needed the coolness ye could have just slept withou' it," Eaton quipped grinning mercilessly.
"Shut up," Annabel grumbled.
"Yer obviously no a mornin' person," Eaton observed, "mayhap some breakfast will do ye good."
Annebel leaned over to grab the plate from Eaton's hand, "MacDuff, could it be because I wake up to your pretty face?"
"Ouch," Eaton placed a hand over his heart and frowned.
Annabel laughed and smiled and Eaton's heart stopped. Could she do that? He thought. With a smile? Eaton left his hand on his heart and continued frowning.
Duncan jumped up from where he was dozing and ran to give Annabel a morning kiss, "Oh gross-" Annabel jumped up and pinched Duncan's nose as Eaton had taught her, "No- no kisses, if you try it again, I won't every pet you," Annabel threatened. Duncan settled down immediately and Annabel bent to pet his head several times and rub him behind his ears.
"He's gonna start followin' ye around like a love-struck puppy," Eaton said grouchily. Whistling for Duncan to come and then stomping over to grab him by the ear when Duncan did nothing but plant himself next to Annabel.
"Looks like I have myself a loyal friend," Annabel grinned. Eaton turned away quickly grumbling something that sounded like Damn dog…whose side is he on anyway…What is up with him today? Annabel thought, he should be in a good mood; we've hardly yelled each other.
Two more uneventful days of riding and Annabel was getting restless. Could the journey to Inverness really take this long? Surely they had to be in Scotland already. It was if Eaton had read her thoughts.
"Donna worry lass, we are nearin' a town soon, it's just a small trading spot but we'll be able to find a hot meal and a good nigh's rest," Eaton said pointing towards the road they were on, "Ye see how the road gets wider and flatter, it's becaus' it has been moor traveled upon."
Perfect, Annabel thought, it wasna Inverness, but it was a town and people were all she needed.
Riding all day with Annabel cradled between his legs was making it difficult too, well, ride all day. Whenever she dozed the lass would shake off the ridged posture she had adhered too and lean back into him. How much did she think a man could take? He was only human after all.
And it was adorable the way she would jolt awake, Eaton smiled, she'd pretend as though she hadn't just used him as a pillow for the past two hours and would return to her ridged posture mumbling under her breath about how she shouldn't have fallen asleep and apologizing for leaning on him.
They were entering Aberdeen when Eaton gently shook Annabel awake, she jolted, again, and sat up so far that they were barely touching. Eaton sighed; sometimes he liked the lass more when she was asleep.
"Are we there?" Annabel asked, rubbing the last vestiges of sleep from her eyes.
"Yes lass, welcome to' Aberdeen," Eaton said.
Annabel smiled thoughtfully, if all went well she would be out from under Eaton's watchful, suspicious eye and on her way to Aviemore. Hopefully, Annabel thought, she could find some relatives there that would watch over her until she was old enough to take control of the money her father willed her. Two years, Annabel thought, just two more years.
They rode up to Mack's Inn and decided it was a good enough place to stay the night.
"Alright lass, I'm gonna go put my horse in the stalls down the road and clean her over. Ye can walk around a bit and get wha' ye need, but donna go runnin' off or I'll scour the city for ye and ye won't be happy when I find ye," Eaton promised as he road away.
Why did he always leave with parting threats? Annabel wondered, oh yes, because he could read her mind.
Across the street and down about a block was a small boutique that caught Annabel's eye, she crossed the road and entered the store. Inside there were several rows of beautifully crafted dresses, when Annabel read the price tags her eyes nearly crossed.
She was just about to walk out when she noticed a shelf in the very back of the store. On it were six or seven dresses that seemed plain enough and, checking the price tags cautiously, Annabel sighed gratefully, she could afford them.
The store clerk had come up behind Annabel as she stood surveying the clothing, "This looks as if it would fit ye miss," she mentioned.
Annabel whirled around and almost toppled over the clerk, "Oh my gosh, I am so sorry," Annabel squeaked, grabbing the clerk to prevent her from falling over. In the midst of all the hassle the garment had flown out of the store clerk's hands and fallen onto Annabel's head. Annabel snatched the thing off her head and began to hand it back to the woman when she stopped.
What she held was a chemise, it was so sheer that she could see her hand plainly through both layers; it didn't matter, she was in love. The chemise had small roses sewn painfully into the neckline and beautiful ruffles layering the bottom. It looked just about her height and, when she gave in and tried it on, it fit perfectly.
Annabel felt only a little foolish as she walked out of the boutique with two bags, one holding the beautiful chemise and the other a plain off-white dress that seemed as though it would hold wear and tear.
Walking back across the street and into the inn Annabel grinned; this was going to be fun.
Eaton stood wiping down Alexander who stood snoring in his stall. He stuck his nose out arrogantly and turned to peer one way and then the other, there was a female in here, and he could just smell her.
Eaton grabbed up a handful of oats and Alexander dug in, when there was food, there was no time for women. Eaton sighed, why couldn't it be that easy for humans?
Leaving Alex to the stable boy, who whimpered slightly at the massive size of the horse, Eaton walked the couple blocks back to Mack's. Once inside he let his eyes adjust and then scouted the room for Annabel.
"Ann, where have ye gone lassie," if she left he was going to be furious. Why? He wasna sure, he just was.
Ahha! There she was, standing directly behind the Innkeeper, Mack was his name? And his wife, "Ann," Eaton said uneasily, why were they glaring at him?
"Me name's Mack, and me wife here is Christa," The Innkeeper announced, "are ye the man keepin' this lassie agains' her will?"
Eaton squirmed slightly, but his answer came out confident, "Of course not."
Annabel's eyes widened, he was going to deny it!
It was the Christa's turn next, "Then why did she say ye have been?" She asked pointedly, her eyes shooting daggers as Eaton. He almost took a step back, and then he thought, what was he doing? She is a little woman; he could take them all down if he had a mind to.
The innkeeper stood steady but his wife jumped back when Eaton took an intimidating step toward them, "Come any closer," the innkeeper threatened, with a wooden spoon. Eaton almost laughed.
Annabel stood behind them still, looking less and less sure of herself. She had thought this was going to work! She was sure of it! Where there were people then there was protection. She had found people…now where was the Goddamn protection? These people were nice, sure, and unsuspectingly loyal, yet she knew they would cave eventually under Eaton's demonic stare.
Jeez he could really shoot em', she thought as she stared into his eyes. They had gone black again, but this was for an entirely different reason.
Eaton was furious! How could she do this to him? Well he would just have to top the bet then, "Mack, it's Mack isna it?" He asked casually, trying not to let his anger show, "I can explain thees all verra easily."
Oh he can, can he? thought Annabel.
And as if he read her mind he looked at her and said, "Yes, I can," he then turned his attention back to the Innkeeper and his ferocious little wife, "You see, sir, we are married," Eaton cringed on the last word, yet it was no less effective.
Immediately two sides appeared, the Innkeeper was attempting to explain to his wife the legal rights a man has over his woman when they were bound in holy matrimony. Christa on the other hand argued that if she didn't want to go back to him then that was that, it was her choice. Annabel stood in the middle of it all screaming, "WHAT? MARRIED? WE ARE NOT MARRIED!"
Mack and Christa stopped bickering and turned back towards Eaton, "the girl says she's not married," the Innkeeper stated.
"Yes well, she likes to play thees game ye see, If she gets to thee Inn afore I do then she plays a trick on thee keepers, If I get there first…well ye see the point do ye not?" He had thought of everything, Eaton almost smiled. Before Annabel could say anything he continued on, "Alas, ye must have thought that ye had gotten here afore me love, but no', go look in yer books Mack, we have room twenty-four," Eaton said matter-o-factly as he pulled a gold key out of his pocket.
He had her now, Eaton thought, she was 'bound' in holy matrimony, and he could see even Christa was having second doubts.
She was standing there gently chastising Annabel who was looking for all the world like she wanted to hit the woman, "Honey, marriage is hard, but look at my husband an I, we are going on forty years together."
Annabel kept trying to tell the woman she wasn't married to Eaton but she wasn't having any of it, "Oh for heaven's sake!" Annabel said throwing her hands up and stalking from the room.
Eaton found Annabel outside sitting next to Duncan; she had her arm around his massive shoulders and was scratching one of his ears. Duncan looked as if he was going to melt into a pool on the ground, his tongue was lolling out of his mouth and his eyes were closed shut.
"Stop tryin' to seduce me dog, will ye?" Eaton uttered as he walked up to the pair.
Annabel turned toward Eaton, her eyes lighting up heatedly, "Stop trying to hold me captive," she yelled back before jumping up and stomping away. Duncan stood up and followed after her.
"Ann-" Eaton said as he caught up with her.
"It's Annabel," she said haughtily as she continued at an angry pace.
"It fits ye," Eaton said simply, as if she hadn't been lying about her name for the past week to him. There was one secret, Eaton thought, now where were the others exactly?
What were they doing? Annabel stopped suddenly; they had found there way back around to Mack's and were standing outside of the entrance, "How…" Annabel trailed away.
"Scotland's magical," Eaton stated.
"You're an idiot."
"Ye married me lassie," Eaton smirked, he just had to build up enough steam to get Annabel going, and she would do the rest all by herself.
"I did not!"
"Well, ye might as weel, yer reputation will be all but' ruined after this," Eaton said as he took as step toward Annabel, bringing himself to within an inch of her. He looked down and saw Annabel's eyes widen and her lips part in a surprised gasp.
She tilted her head up to see him, "After what-" she demanded, right before his lips crushed hers.
Annabel brought her hands up Eaton's chest to push him away, but instead she found herself fisting them in his shirt. What was she doing? She no longer cared. His lips moved softly over hers, feeling their texture, their fullness.
Eaton's hands came to rest on Annabel's waist, there was no way she was going anywhere. He had wanted to kiss her since he saw her, Eaton thought. And he was going to make the most of it before Annabel came back to herself.
He could feel right when she returned, the hands that had curled so deliciously into his shirt a moment before had become flat and were pushing insistently on his chest.
Eaton ignored them, hoping that if perhaps he deepened the kiss he could drag her under again, but she was having none of it.
Annabel was furious! She was pushing and shoving for all her might, but the guy was a brick wall, finally he let her go. She took a step back, raised her arm and let one fly. He hand smacked Eaton right across the face, snapping his head to the side and making him go temporarily blind.
"Who gave you permission?" Annabel almost yelled as she glared at Eaton.
"You were askin' for it honey," came Eaton's quick reply. Wrong thing to say. Annabel let loose a second slap, but Eaton was too quick for her. He grabbed her arm before she could hit him and tugged her to him, he looked her dangerously in the eye, "You are goin' play nice, be my little wife lassie, an' then ye and I can work this out on our own."
Annabel didn't know what made her give in; maybe it was the dangerous glint in Eaton's eyes, or perhaps the flint in his tone. Either way there she was, sitting in the room they had purchased at Mack's. She got up and tried the door, locked. Damn. Of course he would lock it. She wasna his, yet for some Goddamn reason he thought he owned her.
Well if he wanted her, she thought, that's just what he'll get. Annabel turned from the door and scoured the room, there had to be something…
Ah ha! She spied a glass pitcher on top of the dresser and went over to pick it up. Testing the weight in her hand she decided it would do. It was half filled with water, which lent it a good amount of weight. Annabel tugged a chair over from the fire to sit by the door; she would wait however long it should take.
Eaton sat at the bar drinking a beer, he had been across the street at the pub for nearly three hours now. What was he going to do with her? Eaton thought. He hardly knew the lassie, yet, he couldn't just let her go. Though, he did have half a mind to. What the other half was thinking, he wasna sure.
He called the bartender over, "Could I haf noother?" Eaton asked, slurring his words together slightly.
"Sir," the bartender began, "Ye have no exactly let up, mayhap-"
Eaton cut him off, "Another," he growled.
"Alright, sir, alright," the bartender said, raising his hands in front of his face as if to surrender.
An hour later when he finally made his way back to Mack's, he was sure in for a surprise.
Annabel sat straight up, the door had just jiggled a bit, and surely she wasn't imagining it. Alright, don't be a wuss, she told herself.
It jiggled just a bit more and Annabel jumped up, raising the pitcher above her head, preparing for the door to open. She could here a key being inserted into the lock and she watched warily as the handle turned and the door creaked open.
As soon as the man walked in Annabel crashed the pitcher down on his head. Too bad it wasn't Eaton. Annabel knelt down to the fallen man; it was Mack, the innkeeper. What was she going to do now?
She shifted Mack till he was lying on his back and saw that he was out cold, Great. She glanced around to see if anyone had heard the disturbance and decided to investigate. Poking her head out the door she sighed in relief when the hall stayed quiet. She tugged Mack all the way into the room, grunting with effort, and then jumped over him to shut the door.
She sat down on the bed, wondering how she was going to wake Mack, or at least get him out of her room. She glanced around the room, she could hide him in the closet, under the bed…no, she'd just have to take care of him.
Something scurried around outside her room and Annabel glanced up just in time to see Christa come in with a concerned look.
"Are ye alright lass?" She said before she saw her husband, "I sent Mack up here to get ye…"
"I-I can explain," Annabel spoke quickly, "I was gonna hit Eaton when he came back and…" she gestured around her as if to lie out the events that had taken place.
Thank God the woman understood, "Ah, I see, Mack got here first." Annabel sighed in relief, "Donna worry lass, a misunderstandin', is a misunderstandin'."
Just then a moan sounded from the ground and both women turned to look, Mack was waking up, "Oh thank God," Annabel breathed.
They got Mack up and dragged him slowly to the first floor where he was set on his bed, "Wha-What happened?" He asked in a dazed voice.
"Well-" Annabel started, but Christ cut her off.
"Donna worry aboot it," she told her husband, "it' twas all a misunderstandin' in thee first place." All he did was nod and lay back on the bed and in couple seconds he was snoring.
"You know he might have a mild concussion, mayhap he should stay awake-" Annabel began before she was cut off, again. This time it was from a bellow coming from up the stairs, Eaton was back.
Annabel laughed, she hadn't even tried to run off, and still he was yelling. She glanced at Christa, who motioned her off. She climbed the stairs, scared to see what she'd find.
There was Eaton, storming the hallway and yelling as loud as he could. When he saw her he started for her, Annabel backed up a couple steps until she realized she had backed herself into a wall.
"Where diid yee go?" He slurred. Wait, Eaton thought, she was there. She was still there, "Yer still heere?" He tried again.
As he got closer, Annabel's eyes widened, and then she smelled him. Great, she thought, he was drunk, "Of course," She shouted back. She was angry now, he had stayed out all night, leaving her locked alone in some inn room and he had the nerve to yell at her! She didn't even leave!
Eaton walked up to Annabel and placed his hands on either side of her head, trapping her in. His breath fanned her face and smelled of alcohol and smoke, she almost gagged, "Eaton. You are drunk," she said as calmly as she could.
He just smiled at her and brought his face close to hers, she smelled nice, he thought. He'd noticed it before, but right now, she smelled amazing, "Ye smell amaziing lassiee."
She thought Eaton was going to try and kiss her again but instead he bent his head, as if to sniff her neck. What was he doing? Just then she felt his lips on her neck, kissing the soft skin there, "Eaton," she warned, but it came out as just a breath, she was having trouble thinking. His kisses traveled down to her collarbone and then back up to her ear where he began to nibble it.
Annabel closed her eyes in rapture. She should stop him, he was drunk for heaven's sake and he probably had no idea what he was doing. But she let him continue and once he got to her ear she shivered.
Feeling her shiver, Eaton moved closer, pressing his hardened body into hers. Annabel stopped, everything was happening too fast; she couldn't let him do this when he was drunk. Hell, she thought, she wouldn't let him do this if he was sober.
She pushed him away, her neck tingling in pleasure. She frowned, "Eaton, you are drunk," she repeated, "Lets get you to bed."
Eaton woke up with the sun in his eyes and a massive headache. Rubbing his eyes he cursed himself for being so foolish as to drink that much in one night. He didn't know what had come over him.
He sat up and glanced around for Annabel. That was her actual name, he thought, it fit her so much better than Ann. She wasn't there, but…he sniffed the air, there was a lingering scent of…jasmine?
Jumping up he looked down, he was wearing next to nothing. How did he get that way? Eaton couldn't remember even falling asleep, let alone undressing. Pulling on the discarded pair of trousers at the edge of his bed he dragged them on and rushed downstairs.
If she had gone, he thought, but, no, there she was. Annabel sat at the small dining table the Inn offered sharing breakfast with Mack and his wife Christa. She turned his way when he entered but her eyes were unreadable.
"Ye-yer still heer," Eaton said pointedly. Mack and Christa offered simple hellos but Annabel had turned back to her food and was no longer paying attention.
Christa had gotten up and was attempting to drag Eaton towards the kitchen, but he couldn't keep his eyes off of Annabel. Something had happened last night, he was sure of it…if only he could remember, "Come on lad, weel get ye a bit o' breakfast, I'm sure yer head must be poundin'."
Great, Eaton thought, the whole Inn probably knew about what happened last night, so why didn't he?
"Where are all thee other guests?"
"It's eight therty' in thee mornin' laddie," Christa said with a motherly shrug. Eaton piled some ham, eggs, and bacon onto his plate and then walked back into the dining room.
Plopping down next to Annabel he turned towards her, "Lass, why did ye no leave?"
Annabel put her fork down, "So now you want me gone?" Could he just make up his mind?
"No, no acourse' not, yet, I was out cold las' night, I canna' remember a thing. Ye must have had plenty o' time," Eaton looked at her curiously.
"I-" Annabel had to think for a second, "I couldn't leave Duncan here to fend for himself, he needs me. Plus," she continued, "I couldn't verra well leave your drunk arse to fend for yer self."
Eaton smiled, if the lass wanted to stay then there was nothing he could complain about. It just made no sense.
Annabel hadn't even thought about running off once Eaton was sleeping. She had taken off his clothes, trying valiantly not to run her eyes down his body. A perfect body, she might add, with tan, sculpted muscles. She blushed.
Eaton saw Annabel's cheeks turn a bright pink and he stopped eating to look at her. She really was pretty when she blushed like that.
"What?" Annabel asked in a clearly annoyed voice.
"N-nothing," Eaton said, turning back towards his food and digging into breakfast with a small smile on his face.
"We have to stop," Annabel pressed.
They had only just left Aberdeen like two hours ago, Eaton thought, "For what exactly' lass?"
"For, you know…"
"Oh," He caught onto the hint. He pulled on Alexander's reigns, the horse slowed to a stop and Duncan settling down behind them.
One more day, Eaton thought, as he watched Annabel amble away. One more day and they would make it to MacDonnell land. He wasn't going to bring Annabel to Inverness, where she thought they were going. No he thought, he was taking her home. To assuage some of the guilt he was feeling he knew that if she really had to get to Inverness it was only a day's ride away.
Annabel walked back from the trees and headed straight to Duncan, Eaton's eyebrows shot up. What was it with her and that dog? It was like they were concocting some secret plan that he wasn't allowed to know about.
"Ye ready," Eaton practically growled.
Annabel's head whipped around to stare at him, "y-yes, of course," she stammered. Without waiting he grabbed a hold of Annabel's waist and hoisted her up onto the saddle, her eyebrows went up but she said nothing.
Annabel was wondering, for at least the fourth time that day, why she hadn't run off. She was ready and willing to crash a pitcher on his head, but when she had the chance, she stayed. Drunk or knocked out she knew he would have come too eventually. And then he would have come after her. Maybe that was the reason, she thought, at least this way he wasn't scowling and angry…well, not all the time. And she just didn't want to explore the other reasons that had led her to stay at Mack's last night.
They road for a long time in silence until eventually, Annabel fell asleep.
She woke as Eaton was dragging her from the horse, "Wha-"
"We arr' stayin' heer the nigh' lass," Eaton cut in.
That night Eaton didn't tie Annabel's hands together, or her legs for that matter. The lass was just too tired to even think, Eaton thought, and if she was going to stay the night at Mack's then she was probably going to stay till they got to Inverness.
Annabel was amazed that she wasn't tied up, and she would have said so if she wasn't so damn tired. As soon as her head hit the ground she was out.
Eaton turned from the fire he had successfully started, "rabbit an' coffee lass…" he trailed off when he saw Annabel laying there peacefully. He wouldn't wake the lass up, she needed her sleep. She could wait till morning.
Annabel had fallen asleep again, Eaton thought as she lay back against his chest. It was better this way. Though she didn't know the Scottish highlands at'all he still didn't want her putting in together in her head that they weren't exactly headed for Inverness.
She gave a soft snore; Eaton looked down and realized he was smiling. She was adorable when she slept, he thought.
Annabel slept the rest of the day away, she never understood how she could fall asleep on a moving horse, but it was what it was. She didn't wake up till it was nearly nightfall.
"Inverness?" She asked. It didn't look like a town.
"Wrong lass," he chuckled, " this, is MacDonnell Castle."